The man accused of breaking into House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s home, beating her husband and seeking to kidnap her told police he was on a “suicide mission” and had plans to target other California and federal politicians, according to a Tuesday court filing.
David DePape was ordered held without bail during his arraignment Tuesday in San Francisco Superior Court. His public defender entered a not-guilty plea on his behalf. It was the first public appearance since the early Friday attack for DePape, a fringe activist drawn to conspiracy theories.
In court papers filed Tuesday, prosecutors detailed the attack in stark terms as part of their bid to keep DePape behind bars. Paul Pelosi was knocked unconscious by the hammer attack and woke up in a pool of his own blood, the filing said.
DePape allegedly said he had other targets, including a local professor as well as several prominent state and federal politicians – and members of their families.
“This case demands detention,” Jenkins wrote in the court filing. “Nothing less.”
Wearing orange jail clothing, DePape only spoke to tell Judge Diane Northway how to pronounce his last name (dih-PAP’). The 42-year-old defendant is scheduled to return to court Friday.
After the hearing, DePape’s public defender Adam Lipson said he looks forward to providing DePape with a “vigorous defense.” He also said he met DePape on Monday night for the first time and had not seen the police reports yet.
“We’re going to be doing a comprehensive investigation of what happened. We’re going to be looking into Mr. DePape’s mental state, and I’m not going to talk any further about that until I have more information,” said Lipson, who noted that a no-bail detainer in state court is a moot point because DePape also has been placed on a federal hold in the case.
He later said he was pleased that Paul Pelosi was improving and expected to make a full recovery, adding he urged the public “not to pass judgment on what he called a complicated situation.”
“From experience, I can say that there’s always more to the story than what is initially reported,” he said, noting “there are a lot of rumors and speculation about this incident that will need to be sorted out in court once we review the evidence.”
“Mr. DePape is entitled to a vigorous legal defense, and we intend to give him one,” he added.
He also said DePape’s shoulder was dislocated during his arrest and that he was wearing a sling under his jail clothing during the hearing.
The Pelosi family had asked for a Zoom link to be able to watch Tuesday’s proceedings but the judge said she did not get the request ahead of time.
The attack on 82-year-old Paul Pelosi sent shockwaves through the political world just days before the hotly contested midterm elections. Threats against lawmakers and elections officials have been at all-time highs in this first nationwide election since the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the Capitol, and authorities have issued warnings about rising extremism in the U.S.
DePape faces state charges of attempted murder, burglary and elder abuse. He also faces federal charges including attempted kidnapping of a U.S. official. Those charges are outlined in an affidavit detailing the assault, which was largely captured on police body camera imagery after authorities responded to a 911 call from the Pelosis’ Pacific Heights home.
In Washington, U.S. Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger provided a sobering update Tuesday of security protocols for members of Congress.
Manger said that although many improvements have been made since the Capitol attack, including the hiring of nearly 280 officers by the end of this year, “there is still a lot of work to do.”
“We believe today’s political climate calls for more resources to provide additional layers of physical security for members of Congress,” he said
Manger said the attack on Pelosi’s husband was “an alarming reminder of the dangerous threats elected officials and public figures face during today’s contentious political climate.”
Speaker Pelosi was in Washington at the time and under the protection of her security detail, which does not extend to family members. She swiftly returned to San Francisco, where her husband was hospitalized and underwent surgery for a skull fracture and other injuries.
District Attorney Brooke Jenkins said the assault on Paul Pelosi appeared to be premeditated, and she appealed to Americans to “tone down” the political rhetoric.
During a news conference after the arraignment hearing, Jenkins said her office won’t release the 911 recording or police bodycam footage unless they’re presented at trial.
—Olga R. Rodriguez And Lisa Mascaro, The Associated Press